Roland Garros: enjoy the ride

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Having skipped coverage of the clay court season leading up to the French, I’ve come to the table with an empty stomach. As some of you may recall from last summer’s U.S. Open, it is possible to overdose on watching tennis.

And now, with the recent news and results of the circuit having faded from our consciousness and as RG gets under way, a parade of unheralded players burst out of the woodwork and onto the stage: Eysseric of France, who just turned 18; Eduardo Schwank of Argentina, taking down Moya; the welcome-but-sadly-brief return of Guillermo Coria; and many more names that have never passed our ears. You have to get up pretty early in the morning, troll a number of obscure tennis resources, and generally do a lot of homework to keep up with everyone. (The commentators certainly don’t do it, so I don’t feel too bad not having done it myself.)

I smell some late-round surprise survivors for this year, a la Filip Dewulf (’97 semifinalist) or Martin Verkerk (finalist ’03). And along with that some big-time upsets. But watching the first round matches play out with a sense of inevitability, a few early exits excepted, we’d be deluding ourselves to think that anyone but Rafael Nadal will be biting the Coupe des Mousquetaires on June 8th. So it’s all about enjoying the ride.

Michael Shaw writes about tennis and other subjects for the Los Angeles Times, and is also an artist. He can be reached at michaelshaw_sar AT yahoo DOT com. Read his previous posts for TSF here.

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